Last weekend we were fortunate to have my Mom and Dad visit us at the cottage. They are big aviation buffs (and both former pilots), so each year we bring them up for the weekend to make the trek to the Gathering of the Classics – a car and aircraft show in Edenvale, Ontario.
They love seeing all the planes fly in and connecting with friends they might run into. We sometimes make a game of quizzing my Dad on all the aircraft – what type, and where it is made and who owns it. His knowledge of the aircraft is outstanding. This weekend we ran into a friend of his that he took flight school with in 1964!
When we arrived, we discovered that there was a meeting there of the 99s – a group of international women pilots occurring. My Mom has been a member for years and although we had asked my Mom previously if she wanted to attend this meeting, she had not been interested. At about 2:30 when we were about to leave she thought she might like to go, so we ran around trying to locate the meeting. We were lucky enough to find someone to give us a lift on a golf cart way over to the other side of the air field where the meeting was being held in a hanger.
We arrived with the walker to the meeting already in progress. She expectantly slid off the golf cart and joined the group when an old friend came over to greet her. She was so thrilled! She became really animated and her face lit up and as she connected with old friends and new young pilots - sharing stories and experiences.
It turns out that this impromptu visit was a highlight of the weekend and yet we almost didn’t go. This lead me to think about why she enjoyed the company of these woman so much.
It turns out that my mom has been a member of this group for so long – it is a place of “effortless belonging”. A group where she has been a member for more than 50 years, where she can go and always see friends – old and new, and be welcomed with a warm embrace.
People came up to me and told me how much they appreciated having her there and instrumental she had been in their journey in becoming a member. How she had welcomed them so warmly and encouraged them to join, letting them know about upcoming meetings, and connecting them with others with similar interests.
This place of acceptance and belonging is so important to a happy and thriving life. Not only are social relationships important sources of social support but they also are a critical component of a meaningful life. Fifty years ago, when she joined I imagine life was quite a bit different from now. With the demands of everyday life, with greater mobility, with social media and changes in work and family life, how many of us are contributing to a place of effortless belonging?
With gratitude Mom, for reminding me again about what is truly important in life.